Before his starring role in The Sopranos made his name, character actor Michael Imperioli worked in numerous films during the 1990s with an impressive array of New York-based talent. Born in Mount Vernon, NY, Imperioli did not have to move far when he decided to study acting at New York City's Stella Adler Conservatory. Soon after his 1988 movie debut, Imperioli burnished his acting resumé with a small part as Spider, shot by Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas (1990). The following year, Imperioli earned his first role in a Spike Lee film, Jungle Fever (1991). Becoming a Lee regular, Imperioli also played small parts in Malcolm X (1992), Clockers (1995), and Girl 6 (1996), and garnered his first feature screenplay credit as co-writer and executive producer of Lee's Summer of Sam (1999). Imperioli added Italian-American authenticity to Nancy Savoca's quirky ethnic tale Household Saints (1993) and appeared with future Sopranos co-stars Dominic Chianese in The Night We Never Met (1993) and Edie Falco in Abel Ferrara's vampire allegory The Addiction (1995). Briefly "going Hollywood" with parts in the first Michael Bay extravaganza Bad Boys (1995), and Walter Hill's Last Man Standing (1996), Imperioli returned to his New York state of mind in the latter half of the 1990s. Working with The Addiction star Lili Taylor again, Imperioli was an arrogant Ondine to Taylor's disturbed Factory hanger-on Valerie Solanas in Mary Harron's I Shot Andy Warhol (1996). Audiences could finally attach a name to Imperioli's oft-seen face when he was cast as drug-addicted wannabe screenwriter/mobster Christopher Moltisanti in David Chase's Mafia series The Sopranos. A critical hit from its 1999 debut onward, The Sopranos' potent combination of black comedy, family drama, and violence allowed Imperioli to display the full range of his talents onscreen, particularly when Christopher dabbles in Method acting, and offscreen as one of the second season writers. Imperioli is married and has two children.
Biography by Lucia Bozzola
- Before getting steady work as an actor, earned a living as a furniture mover, messenger, bartender and waiter.
- Gained a measure of fame as Spider in Goodfellas, who was shot in the foot by Joe Pesci's crazed mobster; in the first season of The Sopranos, his character, Christopher, likewise shoots a young man in the foot for no good reason.
- Closed a restaurant, Ciel Rouge, that he owned in Manhattan with his wife to open off-Broadway theater Studio Dante.
- Avid racehorse fan who has directed commercials for OTB, the Off Track Betting franchise.
- Directed a commercial for Rutgers University's football program. The ad featured his Sopranos costar, James Gandolfini.
- Wrote five episodes of The Sopranos.
- Lead singer and guitarist for the rock band La Dolce Vita.
- Is a member of the Jazz Foundation of America.